NEW YORK - The Canadiens held a morning skate on Monday at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden. They will play the New York Rangers in the evening. The Rangers are only 3-6 since the start of the season, but one cannot underestimate a team featuring perennial All-Stars Henrik Lundqvist and playing at long last from its home bench.
“You can’t forget that [the Rangers] will be playing their first game at home, in front of their crowd. They’ll be ready,” warned the Canadiens’ head coach Michel Therrien.
- Recalled from the Bulldogs on Sunday night, Louis Leblanc and Greg Pateryn skated in company of their new teammates. Leblanc will line up alongside Rene Bourque and David Desharnais to give the team a third offensive option behind the productive lines of Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher and Bournival-Plekanec-Gionta. Called up after a series of dominating performances in the AHL, Leblanc is eager to get a chance to make a mark at the top level.
“I’m happy to be here,” said the 2009 first-round draft pick, who lined up alongside Nick Tarnasky and Gabriel Dumont on Hamilton’s top line. A late cut during training camp, Leblanc took to heart the advice of the Montreal coaching staff. “I know that management recall players based on merit; I’ve played well in the last few games and I’m excited for tonight.”
“You can skate well and shoot well, but when the puck doesn’t go in, it’s tough on your energy level. But once you’ve scored, you get on a roll and you have to use that momentum,” continued Leblanc, who has four goals and two assists in his last three AHL appearances.
- Douglas Murray skated wearing a regular red jersey and will play his first regular season game as a Hab. A veteran of 465 regular season games, Murray will be stepping on the ice for the first time wearing the CH crest.
“It’s exciting. I definitely would have liked to get into a match earlier in the year, but it’s good to be able to play finally. I don’t play hockey just to train in the gym or do off-ice workouts. Playing matches is a lot more fun,” an enthusiastic Murray stated after practice. His coach believes that the Swede will bring value to the team’s blueline corps during a busy week.
“Murray will play tonight. For sure I would have liked to have him practice a few more times with the team, but we have five matches in eight days,” offered Therrien. “He’s a veteran, he brings a presence, and he’s good on the penalty kill. Of course, it’ll take some time for him to find his timing; we’ll be patient with him.”
After missing out on game action due to an upper-body injury suffered in training camp, number 6 will no doubt feel a tinge of nervousness when the puck drops, but his likely defense partner Francis Bouillon doesn’t think it will negatively affect the pairing’s effectiveness.
“For me, I find it’s good to be a bit nervous before a game. It means you want to make a good impression. I’ll have some butterflies in my stomach for sure, but it won’t prevent me from playing my game,” insisted Bouillon, a native New-Yorker.
- Peter Budaj will be get his second start of the season, as the Habs will be playing on back-to-back nights. They will be back at the Bell Centre to take on the Stars Tuesday night. Budaj has a 2-1 career record against the Blueshirts.
- Travis Moen did not make the trip due to a facial injury suffered after he was hit by a puck on Saturday night against the Sharks. Coach Therrien clarified the situation after practice.
“When I first spoke about Travis’ injury [Saturday night], I said he had a cut to his face. After some tests, it’s been determined that he has a small fracture [to his orbital bone]. It’s not too serious,” the Habs’ coach explained. The bruising forward will be out for about a week.
- George Parros, still on the mend, traveled with the team to New York and took to the ice wearing a blue no contact jersey.
Lines at practice:
Galchenyuk – Eller - Gallagher
Bournival – Plekanec – Gionta
Bourque – Desharnais – Leblanc
Blunden – White - Holland
Markov – Subban
Gorges - Diaz
Murray – Bouillon
PaterynSEE ALSORAW: MurrayGame Preview: Canadiens @ RangersOn the road: NYC